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Please click through for the Best and Worst of WWE NXT for January 14, 2015.
Best: Tyson Kidd Is My Favorite Wrestler For Countering The Sin Cara Kick
Every now and then a wrestler will put a spin on a basic transitional move, and someone will see it and say, “oh, that’s a better way to do the move, I’ll try that.” Sometimes everyone sees it (because it’s on TV) and everyone starts trying it. That’s the Sin Cara kick. Rope-assisted kick, gamengiri, whatever you want to call it. This thing:
Sin Cara made it popular, so I’m blaming him. Way too many people do this on the indies now — never underestimate a wrestler’s desire to slap his own ass — and God bless Tyson Kidd for doing his homework and learning how to counter it. This week’s opening match is Kidd vs. Finn Bálor, and when Bálor goes for the Sin Cara kick Kidd just grabs his leg and dragonscrews it down over the top rope. It’s glorious.
Kidd loses Indies Ubiquitousness Points for doing the Davey Richards apron punt that people are getting carried away with and using to break each other’s teeth, but whatever.
Kidd/Bálor is a lot of fun and exactly the kind of match Bálor needs. He was brought in as an unstoppable superhero who could instantly trounce the toughest guys on the show, and his most seen NXT appearance involved him painting himself like a Lovecraftian ballerina and murdering people with his neck-mouth. Having him go toe-to-toe with a guy who can go but is chronically overconfident is perfect; you allow him to look human, but still give him the big, dramatic comeback that lets him look a little larger than life. It’s a great use of Kidd, too, who is settling into that role of charismatic workhorse we love having around but don’t ever really expect to break through and become a thing. He and Cesaro are two sides of the same coin. One’s “UGH IT’S CESARO, WHAT’RE YOU BLIND, PUSH HIM, HE’S BETTER THAN EVERYONE,” and the other’s “ha, Tyson Kidd. Tyson Kidd’s awesome. He dressed up like a kitty cat.”
Worst: Nobody In Wrestling Can Call The Sling Blade
This is the Sling Blade. Hiroshi Tanahashi says it “came to him in a dream.”
Finn pulls it off in the match (along with an inverted Bloody Sunday which I can’t get used to seeing without hearing Japanese dudes yelling BLUTTY SUNDAAAAAAAY) and nobody knows what to call it. Rich calls it MY GOD WHAT IS THAT, WHAT A COLLISION. Riley calls it a “floating, spinning neckbreaker” and notes that he’s never seen it, which is not surprising. Renee calls it “OHHH!” because she’s Gwen Stacy and just fell off the George Washington Bridge.
Nobody in wrestling seems to know how to call the move. On Lucha Underground Matt Striker, a man who has been to Japan and called one of New Japan Pro Wrestling’s biggest shows, calls it a “nice Tanahashi!” I just want to hear someone confidently call it. Like, let Cena do it on Raw and have JBL yell THAT MOVE’S CALLED THE SLING BLADE MAGGLE, JESS LIKE THE BILLY BOB THORNTON MOVIE, I LOOKED IT UP ON THE INNERNET.
Best: I Want Bull Dempsey And Devin Taylor To Ride Around Together In A Van And Solve Spooky Mysteries
Devin asks Bull what he thinks about tonight’s match against Baron Corbin. Bull sings his entrance theme and says that when it’s all said and done, Corbin will be lying in the ring staring up at Eddie Kingston. Devin responds using her finest move, the Impressed Nod. Her confused and upset face gets a little wistful and adopts a slow, sort of knowing bob.
I want them to be best friends. If I booked NXT I’d immediately put them in a romance angle, and immediately end it with Devin dropping an “I think of you like a BROTHER” bomb and Bull sadly lowering his head while all the roses in his hands droop.
Best: Bull Dempsey Gets Beaten Back Into The XFL
So much love in my heart for this match.
After weeks of THE IRRESISTIBLE FORCE MEETING THE IMMOVABLE OBJECT, the payoff to the Bull Dempsey/Baron Corbin beef is Corbin beating him in like 90 seconds instead of 30. That’s Bull Dempsey’s conquest. He lasted three times longer than Local Talent, which still brings him in just under most main roster Divas matches.
It’s where the story needed to go, honestly. Bull came in like a wrecking ball. He never hit so hard in a match. All he wanted was to break Corbin’s walls. All Corbin ever did was bray-hay-hayke him. It’s the progression of the Mozart/Salieri bit. Bull gets a gameplan and knows what he has to do to win, but it just doesn’t work. Corbin’s got some unteachable spark that allows him to roll out of the way of the FALL OF MAN — I’m calling Bull’s finish that, IDGAF — and hit the End Of Days on a 300-pound guy like he’s holding Alexa Bliss.
I hope Dempsey gets tossed back into the redevelopment tank with Mojo, because Dempsey’s probably a better actual wrestler than Corbin. He looks more natural in the ring and can move really well for a guy his size. He’s just too manufactured and singing the Greatest Hits of other, better wrestlers, and that’s not gonna get him anywhere if he can’t do it with fire. I don’t know what character would benefit him the most, but you can get a van for a couple thousand bucks and ghosts are everywhere.
Best: I WAHHHN
Match #3 is a Charlotte and her dowdy but well-meaning Canadian stepmom against Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch. The story here is Sasha getting the pin on Charlotte with Terminus and a handful of shorts and doing an extended celebration the ramp where she makes crybaby hands and yells I WAHHNNNN at the camera.
This was probably the fourth time we’d seen Sasha at this set of tapings — with full entrance and everything — so the fact that she still had the level of crowd support she did says something. People like her and want to see her win. She’s getting space on the promotional tour posters with all the important people now, so maybe the continuation of the Charlotte/Sasha feud means The Boss might actually come out on top?
As a guy who reviews these shows every week, there’s not an NXT thing I want more than a Charlotte/Sasha championship rematch on a live special that puts Sasha over. It’s not that I dislike Charlotte or think she’s a bad champion. I think she’s great. I just also know Ric Flair’s “genetically superior daughter” doesn’t need the belt to be important, and we have never seen the NXT Women’s Championship change hands. Paige won it and vacated it when she won the Divas Championship on Raw, and now Charlotte’s in danger of staying champ until her call-up. I want to see one of the pack of talented extras — Bayley or Sasha specifically — rise up and snatch Charlotte’s wig. I want an NXT Women’s Champion that isn’t just the Dominant Best One Who Always Wins Unless You Cheat. The belt needs its Bo Dallas. Sasha can and should be that.
Best: Adrian Neville Has The Best Hurricanranas I’ve Ever Seen
There are two things Sami Zayn does better than everyone else right now:
1. Kicking out at 2.9. He’s just an ace at last-second kickouts. There’s a moment late in the match where Neville dodges a Helluva Kick and O’Connor rolls Sami up and bridges, and frankly there’s no reason the Full Sail crowd should expect another title change in Sami’s first damn defense, but they buy it. Great wrestling operates in milliseconds. When the ref counts two, you know Sami’s kicking out. But if you go past 2.5 and really get as close as possible to three before the shoulder goes up, expectation goes out the window and you’re left pondering the “what” and “why” and “oh my God” of the pin happening. It all happens in a flash, and when the shoulder pops up you feel relief. You stop thinking and your body just reacts to the drama. That’s awesome, and that’s not something everybody can do.
2. Taking a hurricanrana. Nobody does it better, period. Sami’s timing on the front somersault is from a decade of experience, and he gets up at the right time and crashes down on his shoulders like he’s been thrown from a train. Neville deserves just as much credit for making the move look great, as he’s got incredible leg strength and actually CLOSES HIS LEGS on the move to make it look like he’s whipping his opponent over by the head. Lots of people — Sin Cara, I’m looking in YOUR direction — just jump and put their legs on their opponent’s shoulders and get held and swing around. There’s no reason a guy should flip with that. If you’re leg-scissoring his head and flipping backwards, wrestling physics say you’ve gotta go with it. That little thing is what makes the move work.
This rematch was wonderful because it was great wrestling from start to finish, but also because it told an important story: that Sami Zayn’s championship reign is legitimate, and he’s not going to have to grapple with grand emotional questions at the end of every match. The R Evolution match was built around the “will he or won’t he” of Zayn taking the low road and ruthlessly aggressing his way to the championship. Here, Sami’s already made his decision. He’s not taking shortcuts, and he’s finally confident in his ability to come back from physical torture and Exploder a guy into turnbuckle pads until he wins.
A supplementary Best goes to the Sami Zayn through-the-corner tornado DDT trope, which states that he’ll hit the first one on you unexpectedly, but get killed by your counter the second time. Cesaro caught him with a European uppercut the second time he tried it, and here Neville superkicks him as he’s coming through. Love it.
Best: Kevin Owens, Mega Jerk
Interrupting the R Evolution main event celebration to beat up his best friend was one thing. Cutting a promo about how he doesn’t care what we think and stretchering out Adrian Neville was another. Kicking the NXT Championship, though? That’s some shit you can’t come back from. You’re dead to me, Owens.